Chemotherapy for Colon Cancer

Chemotherapy is the use of very strong anticancer drugs to kill colon cancer cells.

Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment and will address cancer that is in the entire

body which is why it is often used to prevent spread or to treat cancer that has

already spread. This is not the only reason why chemotherapy is used so if you

doctor suggests treatment with chemotherapy drugs do not assume that your

cancer has spread and metastesized.

Chemotherapy plays a few roles in the treatment of colon cancer.

used to kill colon cancer cells that might have not been removed during surgical

removal of the colon cancer.

reduces the size of the tumor before surgery is performed

used to treat colon cancer by controlling the growth of the tumor.

used to relieve some of the symptoms of the colon cancer.

reduce the likelihood of recurrence

Chemotherapy is often used after surgery is performed to eliminate cancer cells that

may have been left behind and not removed by surgery. The chemotherapy can be

administered through an IV (intravenously) or in pill form. Once the chemotherapy

drugs enter the bloodstream they can reach cancer cells in all parts of the body.

Some studies have shown that using a regimen of chemotherapy after surgery for

colon cancer can increase the surivival rates for some stages of colon and rectal


In patients with advanced colorectal cancer chemotherapy is often useful in relieving

the symptoms of the cancer.

Who is given Chemotherapy for Colon Cancer?

The general opinion in the medical community differs on whether chemotherapy for

Stage II colon cancer will be beneficial to the patient after surgery. It is usually only

advisable in very high risk patients.

Adjuvant chemotherapy after surgery is the standard of care for patients with Stage

III colorectal cancer. Also patients with Stage IV cancers of the colon or rectum can

benefit from the use of chemotherapy as it often will help to shrink the tumor,

increase life expectancy and improve the quality of life.

How is Chemotherapy Administered for Colorectal Cancer?

The use of adjuvant chemotherapy typically involves monthly administration of the

chemotherapy drugs for usually 6 to 8 months. Usually on or a combination of the

following drugs are administered:

5-FU (5-fluorouracil)



oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)

The standard adjuvant chemotherapy combination for colon cancer consists of 5-FU

and leucovorin.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy:

Chemotherapy can produce some side effects. The type of side effects experiences

depends upon the type of chemotherapy drugs used, how much of the drugs are

given and the period of time they are administered. The side effects also depend on

the individual.

The most common side effects for 5FU :

the feeling of being sick


sore mouth or mouth ulcers

drop in blood cell count

overall feeling of tiredness

The most common side effects of irinotecan :

increased perspiration

increase in the production of saliva

watery eyes

pain or cramps in the abdomen


overall feeling of being sick

drop in blood cell count

overall feeling of tiredness

hair thinning or loss

The most common side effects of oxaliplatin:

feeling of being sick

numbness or tingling of the extremeties

numbness in the lips

Article Source: ezinearticles

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